Who's Supporting WebM on Linux?
A couple weeks ago, Google, along with a number of other groups, famously advanced the WebM codec as a supported video format for HTML5-enabled browsers, in an attempt to finally put forward a standard that all parties involved can agree on. How far has the Linux community come since then in implementing support for the new codec? Here’s a look.
WebM is good for Internet users as a whole, since it’s poised to put an end to the prolonged bickering about codecs that has stalled progress towards better embedded video on the Web. But it’s especially beneficial for those of us who run Linux, since WebM, unlike some of its competitors, is an open codec that remains unencumbered by patenting issues–and patents never bode well for the Linux community.
So given WebM’s appeal to the Linux community, how much progress have Linux developers made in implementing support for it thus far? Quite a bit, actually, considering that until two weeks ago, most of us had never heard of the codec.
In particular, support is currently available through the following channels:
- Not surprisingly, Google’s browser, Chrome, implemented support for the new codec the night of Google’s endorsement.
- Moovida, the media player from Fluendo, became one of the first third-party applications to support WebM, the day after Google’s announcement.
- Custom builds of Firefox are available with WebM support, but for the time being it seems that the codec will not be included by default until Firefox 4’s stable release.
- ffmpeg can be compiled with WebM support, meaning that a broad range of ffmpeg-compatible applications should theoretically be able to decode the format. However, custom-compiling ffmpeg is not for the faint-of-heart, and we’ll have to wait for support to be added to standard Ubuntu packages.
For the KDE-lovers out there: I couldn’t find success stories of anyone playing WebM videos in Konqueror, Kubuntu’s browser of choice, but many have tried and failed. It appears that Konqueror users are out of luck, at least for now.
All in all, the Linux community has made a lot of progress implementing support for WebM in two short weeks. Given that few content providers are supporting the codec yet (Google-owned YouTube being the major exception), free-software users are ahead of the curve on this issue. And that’s definitely the right side of the curve to be on.